DUBLIN -- A team of East Bay girls is putting the Rockettes on ice.
The Silver Stars, a synchronized skating team based in Dublin, is taking parts of the famed dance company's kicking show from the bright lights of Radio City Music Hall to the ice rinks of Michigan.
For the past eight months, 13 girls ranging in age from 12 to 16 have perfected synchronized arm movements and kicks in preparation for the Midwestern/Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships taking place now through Sunday in Kalamazoo, Mich.
"Think of it like the Rockettes with the kick lines and precision," said Laura Erle, coach of the Silver Stars and skating director at Dublin Iceland for the past 15 years. "That is what we are doing on ice."
While synchronized skating may not garner the headlines of its figure skating counterpart, the sport is growing, especially in western states.
U.S. Figure Skating held the first U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in 1984, and in 2000 it also hosted the first World Synchronized Skating Championships, according to the U.S. Figure Skating Association's website. The USFSA also has 525 synchronized teams registered with nearly 5,000 skaters participating annually.
The sport can have anywhere from eight to 20 skaters on the ice at one time conducting a team performance that includes spins and step sequences. While there are not as many jumps or spins like singles or pairs figure skating, it uses
"It is all about the team," said Lauren Wrenn, a former four-year member of the Silver Stars and current assistant coach for the team. "You can't focus on yourself. You have to work with other girls and know their strengths and weaknesses, and you have to stay at the same pace."
Current members of the Silver Stars spend two days a week perfecting their performance on the ice and another day focusing on choreography and strength training off the ice. Additionally, the girls spend at least two days a week working with their private coaches at Dublin Iceland.
Members earned a spot on the team from previous tryouts, and 10 of the 13 girls have been together on the team for the past five years. Although the team is competing in Kalamazoo, it is not yet in a division in which it can qualify for the nationals, said Erle.
Erle and Wrenn competed in synchronized skating before moving to the coaching side. A Dublin native, Erle coaches two different Silver Star teams at Dublin Iceland, the current group of 12- to 16-year-olds, and the younger 7- to-11 age group. Dublin Iceland is home to four synchronized skating teams.
Wrenn, a Concord resident, began as a synchronized swimmer before moving over to figure skating and eventually synchronized skating. Wrenn was asked to help coach the Silver Stars younger team during her final year on the team and has been an assistant for the past five years.
"The performing part was great," said Wrenn about competing at the sectional championships." Your heart is beating fast, and you can't help but smile because you know you are performing with all your other friends. It's the best feeling."
Dublin Iceland coach Erle offers skating classes for all levels with a new session starting in February. For more information visit www.dubliniceland.com.